roadkill ghost choir blog pic.jpg

He Can Sing! 5.31.17

We love a crowd that hoots and hollers and we had a live one this week at the Factory. Part of the energy came from locals out to cheer their hometown bar band heroes the Natchez Tracers. And more came from overseas groups, one from Nashville’s sister city in Germany and one especially cheerful gang from Australia. That suits us perfectly. Pick locally and dream globally is our motto. Well, it’s not actually but it sounds good. Not only did the night have a particular chemistry, matching a solo fingerpicker with three very different bands, it featured a tent revival miracle wherein Jeff Austin found his lost voice.

jake la botz blog pic.jpg

Jake LaBotz wielded a particularly precise and percussive guitar as he sat center stage for set one. Opener “Damsel in Distress” was built on a rolling country blues bounce with tidy bent notes. “The Hotel” showed off Jake’s lyrical prowess as he painted a picture of a dreary and dire flop house. “How I Wish She Was Mine” had a fuller rock and roll thrum to go with its murder theme. Jake had poise and cool and a pitch perfect raspy voice. He plays similar parts in film, but on stage he’s the genuine article.

natchez tracers blog pic.jpg

The MCR stage traded places with the music room at Kimbro’s of downtown Franklin for a time as the Natchez Tracers played a great set of barroom roots rock and southern soul. The five guys had a great sense of each other and where the songs were heading. Josh Womack delivered some powerful lead singing in the gospel-tinged “There’s A Darkness In Your Heart.” Lewis Stubbs took charge on “Thankful,” a song of memoriam. The bluesy and aggressive fiddle of Derek Pell pumped up the country in the country/rock hybrid.

roadkill ghost choir blog pic.jpg

The crew was buzzing about Roadkill Ghost Choir when I arrived, specifically that their soundcheck was unusually loud and thrashy for our show. So maybe I had my expectations tweaked but I didn’t think it was over the top at all. The sextet brought layers and textures and big bold melodies. It was rocking for sure, but with a controlled burn. I loved the swirly synth on “Blow To The Head” and the tasty inner rhythms of “Sad Magic.” Kiffy Myers’s steel guitar made the soundscape lovely. Ben Anthony added some killer harmonica. All while Andrew Shepard sang up front with panache and emotion.

jeff austin blog pic.jpg

I got word mid-day that Jeff Austin was suffering from laryngitis and for a while he shifted his plans to play all instrumentals in his show closing set. But on stage the moment overtook him and he threw himself into his opening song, a ripping and rocking bluegrass number called “Run Down.” Next he and banjo man Kyle Tuttle locked eyes and hands in the opening of “Red Haired Boy,” an old fiddle tune pumped up (acoustically) to sound like jazz fusion. The latter half of the set was even more involved instrumentally with spectacular group improv and more larynx challenging singing from Jeff. They reached a sort of chaos jam climax on “Reuben’s Train” to close things out. I truly think Jeff made the right call leaving Yonder Mountain and setting his own course. This was heady, grooving stuff.

Get Social

Next Show



Hosted By Jim Lauderdale


Your contribution will support our weekly webcast and spread the music!


  • Your contribution will support our weekly
  • webcast and spread the music!


Sign up for our mailing list to get exclusive ticket info and news from Music City Roots.


Please support all of our wonderful show sponsors.
Click the logos below to learn more and see special offers!